Tonawanda News

Columns

February 9, 2014

Of Sochi, sport and a momentary miracle

Tonawanda News — When it comes to the true meaning of sports there are two over-simplified narrative traps.

Sports are a meaningless distraction played by a bunch of overpaid, vain athletic freaks desperate for attention.

Sports are a metaphor for life and the struggle to overcome obstacles and reach the height of human achievement in the face of adversity.

There are elements of truth in both but I think it’s more subtle than either narrative would suggest.

Playing sports is about having fun, first and foremost. Picture any great athlete in their quintessential moment of triumph, you’ll never see someone having a better time in life.

Watching sports is about becoming part of something larger than yourself. It isn’t a hobby. It isn’t an obsession. It’s about coming together with like-minded people. It’s democracy at its finest. The great leveler of barroom banter and arena attendance. 

It’s why I love the Olympics. 

Four years ago, Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller put Buffalo at the center of the sporting universe for his dazzling performance as the tournament’s most valuable player, leading the Unites States to a surprise silver medal — and within a whisker of upsetting host Canada for the gold.

Here’s what I wrote of watching that game four years ago:

Some 500 people crowded into an upper floor banquet room, glued to the large flat screen TVs. ... When Buffalo native Patrick Kane found the puck on his stick in the high slot, 30 seconds left and America down by a goal, the place was already on its feet. We held our breath as he turned and fired. Canadian goaltender Roberto Luongo got a pad on the shot, but Zach Parise stood poised at the goalmouth to slam home the rebound and send America and its hockey capital of Buffalo into a frenzy.

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